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[Herald Interview] Crypto.com eyes expansion into Korea

Singapore-based company upbeat about becoming first foreign crypto exchange operator here

By Im Eun-byel

Published : March 11, 2024 - 15:00

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Eric Anziani, president and chief operating officer at Crypto.com, poses before an interview with The Korea Herald at the firm's Seoul office on Thursday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald) Eric Anziani, president and chief operating officer at Crypto.com, poses before an interview with The Korea Herald at the firm's Seoul office on Thursday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Cryptocurrency exchange operator Crypto.com hopes to expand its footing here by launching an exchange app for Korea in the first half of this year, said Eric Anziani, president and chief operating officer at the Singapore-based crypto trading platform.

After more than two and a half years of working to build a foundation in Korea, Crypto.com is ready for full competition on the market. The company operates in 90 countries around the world and has more than 80 million global users.

“We are in the final stages of working with the different regulators here to be approved to launch our product. We are very excited to get to that final stage to bring easy access to digital assets here in the market with the safest and most regulated platform in the world,” Anziani said in an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul last week.

The app will leverage some of the infrastructure and the licensing setup of OK-Bit, a Seoul-based coin market exchange that Crypto.com acquired in August 2022. OK-Bit is one of the 26 exchanges here that are licensed as a virtual asset service provider.

The big break will be on whether the operator can earn the authority to trade Korean won into virtual assets. A VASP has to partner with a local bank for real-name accounts and be approved for the modification report. If proceeds, Crypto.com will become the first foreign player here to gain approval.

“The app will feature a little bit more of 150 token projects, extremely simple UI to buy and sell those assets, along with a couple of additional features. We want to bring something very easy, safe and trusted to the market, and then progressively build on this offering with new products,” Anziani said.

While the commission rivalry is fierce here -- major players Upbit and Bithumb each charge 0.05 percent and 0.04 percent fee for transactions -- Anziani said Crypto.com’s strategy will be different, though the details have not been set yet.

“We will, of course, be very competitive,” he said. “But our value proposition is around safety, convenience and access to exciting projects and bringing those global benefits that are unique to us to Korean consumers.”

Under the vision "Cryptocurrency in Every Wallet," the brand has been taking on a "crypto is more than trading" approach, working to expand cooperation with intellectual property content to enhance its portfolio.

Crypto.com has been pushing to grow its user base through connections with sports events such as Formula 1 and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It also has an edge in allowing users to spend their crypto in the real world without liquidation, Anziani explained.

“We will also work with our partners to drive awareness and distribute the offering to more users. That differentiates us (with other market players) because we have built deep roots in the market,” he said.

While the bitcoin price has been renewing records backed by the global rally in recent weeks, Anziani sees a more promising future in its business expansion both globally and in Korea.

“Korea is a very exciting market. There are a lot of tech-savvy consumers and a lot of interest from global players to enter (the local market). Hopefully, we will be the first ones to do it properly,” he said.